School of Law students from The U assist Indian Wills Project

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Several students from The University of South Dakota School of Law spent spring break traveling to Indian reservations in South Dakota drafting wills for the Indian Wills Project.

Hoping to draft 40 wills in four days, students James Berreth and Carrie Gonsor of Pierre, S.D., Janet Jessup of Jerome, Idaho, Bethany Erickson of Watertown, S.D., Chris Hamze of Hartford, S.D., Sarah Harris of Martin, S.D., Lonnie Wright of Ridgeview, S.D., Amy Thompson of Flandreau, S.D., Andrea Rosenburg of North Tonawanda, N.Y., and Kellen Willert of Lafayette, Colo., opened 71 will preparation cases on the Rosebud, Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux Reservations.

“This project would not have been possible without support from so many, especially law students who donated their time and sacrificed their spring break to help these clients get some peace of mind,” stated JR LaPlante, Equal Justice Works, AmeriCorps Legal Fellow and 2009 graduate of the USD School of Law. “Projects like this take a tremendous amount of collaboration, but if our hearts are in the right place, everything comes together.”

The project, dubbed the “Defractionation Tour,” was a collaboration among Dakota Plains Legal Services, Equal Justice Works/AmeriCorps and the USD School of Law.  While the goal of the project was to write 40 wills during a span of four days, the project also raised public awareness that Indian Estate Planning services remain available through Dakota Plains Legal Services on all nine reservations in South Dakota. 

For more information about this project, please contact: LaPlante at jrlaplante1@hotmail.com.